[meteorite-list] First Mission of Space Launch System with Orion Atop it to Preview Asteroid Visit
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2013 14:30:13 -0700 (PDT)
First Mission of Space Launch System with Orion Atop it to Preview Asteroid Visit
July 8, 2013
Managers in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
have initiated a formal request to change the mission plan for the agency's
first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS), Exploration Mission (EM)
1 in 2017. The flight will carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to a deep
retrograde orbit near the moon, a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system
where an asteroid could be relocated as early as 2021.
The 25-day mission will send Orion more than 40,000 miles beyond the moon
and allow engineers to evaluate the performance of SLS and assess the
systems designed to support a crew in Orion before the capsule begins
carrying astronauts. The plan will provide NASA with the opportunity to
align the flight more closely with the agency's mission to send humans
to a relocated asteroid.
The previous plan for the first test flight of the SLS heavy-lift launch
vehicle was to send Orion on a 10 day mission to high-lunar orbit to evaluate
the fully integrated Orion and SLS system.
"We sent Apollo around the moon before we landed on it and tested the
space shuttle's landing performance before it ever returned from space."
said Dan Dumbacher, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration
systems development. "We've always planned for EM-1 to serve as the first
test of SLS and Orion together and as a critical step in preparing for
crewed flights. This change still gives us that opportunity and also gives
us a chance to test operations planning ahead of our mission to a relocated
The request will be reviewed later this summer by a range of other NASA
The agency announced in April a plan to find and redirect an asteroid
to a stable point near the moon where astronauts can visit and study it
as early as 2021. NASA's asteroid initiative leverages human and robotic
exploration activities while also accelerating efforts to improve detection
and characterization of asteroids. It aligns current and future work in
NASA's Science, Space Technology and Human Exploration and Operations
mission directorates to achieve the space goals set by the administration.
Across the U.S., engineers at NASA and its contractors are making progress
to develop and test Orion and SLS. Orion will first launch on a test flight
in September 2014. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket will
send the spacecraft to an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth's surface.
It will reenter the atmosphere at speeds of about 20,000 mph and endure
temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The test flight is designed
to evaluate the performance of Orion's heatshield and other systems. The
SLS program currently is undergoing an extensive review process to ensure
that every element of the launch vehicle can be successfully integrated.
The review process, called the Preliminary Design Review, is scheduled
for completion later this summer. SLS will be NASA's most capable rocket
ever and enable missions to new destinations in the solar system.
Received on Mon 08 Jul 2013 05:30:13 PM PDT